Six bifurcated needles for smallpox vaccination, developed by Wyeth Laboratories, German(? ), 1975-1978
Bifurcated needles have two prongs. A small drop of smallpox vaccine was placed between the prongs and approximately fifteen punctures would be made into the skin. The needles were easy to use and the technique could be learnt by anyone, making effective widespread vaccination possible. The needles were sterilised by boiling or passing through a flame. The skin was not disinfected before use as this killed the vaccine.
The needles were developed by Wyeth for the World Health Organisation’s Global Smallpox Eradication programme. Wyeth waived the patent royalties to the needles meaning that vaccination was affordable and available to all. The needles are shown here with dried smallpox vaccine (1986-1658 Pt2).